Winter Morning Walk

What do you mean you don’t recognize me? It’s me, not Charlie Brown. 🙂 (No scarf)

I’m either admirable or an idiot or an admirable idiot. 🙂 Despite a temperature reading of 16F I decided to do my 2.75 mile walk anyway. I know that I’m not suffering REAL cold – that’s for folks like my friend Honour in Bay of Fundy. Walking really does make me feel better while I’m walking. And I can cling to the notion of being healthy & determined while I sit at my computer staring at things that annoy me. I’ve been walking now since Sept 27 and it does feel ‘off’ if I miss it. I’ve also learned a few things I need to do in preparation.

From back in the fall, before all the leaves shriveled up in self-defense. Isn’t this pretty?

My routine starts in the morning with a cuddle with BC. She’s an excellent alarm clock. Then I weigh myself. Yeah, sometimes that ruins the day right then and there. Then I begin dressing. In layers. Since September the number of layers has grown.

Also not today. But wintery morning skies make nice photos. Thank goodness today was BRIGHT sunshine.

Today involved 5 layers on my torso, 3 on my head, 2 on my legs and 2 on my feet. Toss in some face protection as well and I’m all ready! Legs = my nylon yoga pants plus sweatpants. Feet = pair of knee-hi stockings plus heavy socks. Torso = nylon turtleneck, long-sleeve cotton tee, fleece jacket, hooded sweatshirt, nylon windbreaker (hey – I get COLD). Head = baseball cap, sweatshirt hood, windbreaker hood (and oh my – when I’m walking into the wind coming off the river I NEED all of those). Face is protected with lip moisturizer, a cloth facemask (that was new today trying to protect my cheeks), sunglasses. Oh! and my hands!!! I always wear surgical gloves under my mittens. When the temperature is below 20F, I use my incredibly warm mittens from Norway (which are usually too darn warm). 🙂 It’s very hard to reach my tissues to blow my nose when needed. But hey – I did it. I walked. Keeping to my personal commitment. But oh please – let it be warmer tomorrow!

Didn’t see any friends this morning. This shot was a few weeks ago. I’m on my front steps very near to her.

Determined Friends

I should have taken pics of the food table (right) and bar (left)

Well, we DID it. We had a small dinner party outside on the deck as the temperatures dropped into the 20s. 🙂 Thank goodness it started in the 40s. I am determined to see friends despite Covid and apparently my friends are also determined to brave the elements for the same purpose. I chose the invitees very carefully. It’s no longer only a matter of being my friends and thinking about who would get along with whom, now I need to think about how my friends “pod”, how they maintain social distancing, their parameters for maintaining health. So while I would have enjoyed having a BIG party, I think those days are still somewhere in the future.

setting up

I sent a lot of emails out beforehand explaining how I “pandemic”, and my plans for the dinner, and how I planned to structure the setting. Then the day of the dinner I sent yet another, offering Due Diligence on how we’d spent the last 5 days. My husband and I put up 2 canopy tents on December 28, four days before the planned Jan 1 date. The point of the canopies was twofold: shelter us from the forecast drizzle/mist and to trap heat from the propane heaters. You’d think I’d have learned about flimsy canopies and rain from last year’s Rosh Hashanah debacle with canopies. The canopies went up Tuesday, crashed in the rain on Wednesday, were restructured and braced on Thursday. Friday we changed the date from the 1st to the 2nd because the weather was not going to be good. Saturday we foolishly grilled our dinner. Why “foolishly”? Because the grill and one of the chairs were supporting the legs of the canopy that had already broken in the first rain. Saturday night that canopy collapsed again. Sigh.

the fan was there to dry the deck – it rained A LOT Saturday night

Sunday morning I got up early and began MY food preparation (we time who gets the kitchen when, when various dishes need the oven). I baked sugar-free gluten-free tahini chocolate chip cookies, rolled out the gluten-free crust for the quiche, and baked gluten-full bread. Then I started on all the non-food preparations (cleaning the kitchen & breakfast room, bringing up all the plastic and paper goods from the basement, etc.). When my husband woke we went out and took down the broken canopy and rearranged the remaining canopy. Then I began ‘fixing’ the deck. I had to rearrange the propane heaters, dry off the deck (hence the fan in the photo), put up an umbrella that had been put away for the winter (replacing the canopy), set up the serving table, hang the LED light curtain, hanging additional lighting, bring up folding chairs… you get the idea. Guests were invited for 6:30. At 6:00 there was a light sprinkle of rain. I thought – I can’t care anymore. If it rains, we’ll go inside, open every window and put in fans. Luckily the rain didn’t even last 5 minutes. Whew!!!!

coats, hats, blankets, and 3 people without coats

My friends all arrived, wearing their winter coats, bearing blankets, bearing food and most of all – in upbeat cheerful spirits, determined to enjoy and have good time. 🙂 For the most part we were all comfortable. As you can see some of us did NOT even wear coats (yay for all the heat that was indeed contained by the canopy/umbrella) and some were bundled up with hats and blankets. I was not wearing a coat which I find amazing, since I am usually cold. Maybe because I never really get to sit still when I’m a hostess – always moving to make sure things are as they should be. We had a wonderful wonderful evening. When everyone left by 11pm, I was outside til nearly 1am, covering up the furniture & heaters & fire pit in anticipation of the forecast “surprise snow storm”. Yeah, never happened but oh well at least my deck is all prepared for if we ever DO have snow. 🙂

don’t you love the pyramid heater???

Monday was all about cleaning up the INSIDE from the Ahuva-tornado that swept thru on Sunday preparing for the party. I had a few moments of existential despair on Sunday which caused me to open storage boxes and strew contents all over the basement floor, break the light at the foot of the basement stairs, and shove everything out of the way into my dining room. 🙂 There was a lot of cleaning necessary. Today dawned bright and sunny – FINALLY!!!!!! Hallelujah!!! – and COLD – 18 degrees F. Nonetheless, I am back in my groove, getting up to do my morning walk (bundled up like Charlie Brown) and now here sipping coffee, ready to return to work (okay, maybe not the latter). I look at these photos and feel so grateful for my friends who are determined to keep relationships going, no matter the weather.

ready for winter. and yeah, i did most of that at midnight in 20 F degree temps. brrr.

Ring in the New Year

frozen moment of the fireworks “raining” down in front of the hotel (do watch the live version below!)

And oh PLEASE let 2022 be MUCH better than the last 2 years!

You know by now that I fall into the “extrovert” category. As annoying as people can be, I neeeeeeeed them. 🙂 I love the excitement and energy of New York City. I love parties. I love meeting new people and talking to them. Okay – that last might need a few parameters but it’s essentially true. Covid has cramped my style greatly. Don’t misunderstand – I am EXTREMELY grateful that to date that is ALL it has done to me personally. My family and I are vaccinated, booster’d and wear masks when in public locations. We’ve been eating out at restaurants, going to the theater, being in the NYC holiday excitement. But even I am cautious about throwing a party at my home.

I got brave and decided to have a small dinner party to start the new year. I invited 8 others to join us for dinner on January 2, outside, with propane heaters, and canopies to shield us from the possible rain. (Okay – originally Jan 1 but the weather looked so bad that I moved it to Jan 2.) But if we are outside, we’ll be wearing coats and warm clothes. *I* wanted to GLITTER and SPARKLE. I decided my husband and I would go out for dinner on NYE so I could have someone else do the meal prep & serving & cleanup and *I* could SPARKLE. We made plans for an “earlyish” seating – 8:45pm (earliest I could get by the time I decided to do this) – even though *I* thought we should go for a much later seating so we’d still be in town when they set off the fireworks outside the restaurant at midnight. My husband nixed that but promised he’d stay awake to get in the car and drive to some point where we could see those fireworks. 🙂 I know he thought we’d both be asleep so it was a safe promise. So we were booked for dinner at 8:45pm at Catherine Lombardi in New Brunswick.

gotta glitter everywhere even if i haven’t had a mani/pedi in forever

Well. The best laid plans, right? In this case, however, the plan for fun was EXCEEDED. I dressed up – spent a good hour trying to put together the correct pants and footwear and necklace for my new glitter – oops – GLITTER – top. I felt pretty confident I’d nailed it. 🙂 I even wore makeup (no, the image below is NOT how I did my makeup). 🙂 We got to the restaurant and were seated, right on time. The tables were spaced very well, the wait-staff wore masks. We were at a table for 2 with only one table to our right (no tables directly to the other sides). We ordered cocktails (oh what a GREAT cocktail I had!!!) and as we were doing that the table to our right was seated – a family of 4. Two men in the chairs facing my wall, 2 women on my wall also. We all glanced at each other but kept on with our lives.

No, I don’t know why I don’t publish my RL face in this blog.

A few minutes later, after our cocktails had arrived, the man closest to my husband leaned over and tapped my husband’s shoulder. I, despite my hearing aids, could not hear what they were saying over all the ambient noise. I should have known. *I* am the one who is still living in the same town where she was born and bred decades ago. My husband is the one who knows people anywhere we go. 🙂 The gentleman and my husband had worked together on a construction job. My husband is a structural engineer, Paul is the owner of a construction company specializing in concrete structures, my husband’s personal favorite material. Those of you who know us both will not be at all surprised that from that point on the 2 of them exchanged a few comments, I ended up exchanging compliments and small talk with the women. Just before our dinners arrived, a table to our other side finished their meal and stood up to go. I was astounded when 2 of them came over to us. OMG!!! It was our neighbor Suzanne and her son Michael, who grew up with our son!!! It was great to see them, and hear what was happening. I took a photo to send to my son. Even funnier in the “isn’t it a small world” sense is that Michael lives outside of Knoxville, TN, which is where a good part of my husband’s family lives now as well. It was so lovely and wonderful to see the 2 of them! And I’ve made a resolution to get together with Suzanne one day soon.

We sat back down for our dinner, noticed that Paul’s table had been served as well. We ate our dinners and enjoyed the festive atmosphere and good food and service. Then we were all done with our main courses. In another day and age, the men would have repaired for cigars and brandy and the women off to to their chitchat elsewhere. In this day and age, my husband and the other man started talking construction, totally oblivious to the rest of us. 🙂 It was now around 10:30pm, and they were having a wonderful time chatting. I started plotting.

I excused myself ostensibly to use the rest room. I found one of the managers and asked if the table next to us had been drinking alcoholic beverages. Upon learning that they had, I ordered a round of champagne for the 6 of us. 🙂 I went back and sat down, but slid over the bench (the women’s side of the setup was one long upholstered bench) to join the women and 3rd man in conversation. 🙂 Our champagne arrived and we had to forcibly interrupt my husband and Paul to participate in the toast. 🙂 I learned that Paul had apparently also paid for a round of OUR drinks. Great minds think alike! As you might have guessed by now, we were all still there talking and enjoying when the management gave everyone the 20 minute warning for getting drinks and heading outside for the fireworks. 🙂 I took my champagne glass and we all headed outside to the street. As long as we stayed within the little fences we could bring our drinks with us.

oh just watch the video. 🙂

The weather was cooperating, it was warm, not raining. We had a countdown to midnight, and then the fireworks began! They were a lot of fun and not what I’d expected. They were shot off from the hotel roof across the street. There was music playing through a sound system. Loads of people cheering and laughing. Even so – we were not crowded into anyone else. When the fireworks were done we were still fairly near the other family. We walked over and hugged happy new year. Paul’s wife suggested that we should get together for dinner together some time (they live in the next county). I said that I would LOVE that! I’d just been remarking to someone recently about how does one make new friends at this age if you are not going in to work??? I guess go out to dinner!!

Wishing you all a happy, healthy new year to come, filled with peace and joy. And food and friends and fun and fireworks!